Petroleum Jelly Products Like Vaseline + Vicks Should Not Be Used with CPAP, NIV + Oxygen Masks

Thursday, 16 February 2017  |  Kath Hope

Do Not Use Petroleum Jelly with Masks

Firstly, I need to point out that this article is not intended to warn people against using either Vaseline or Vicks VapoRub, or in fact any other product containing petroleum jelly/paraffin oil.  Both these products have other fabulous benefits for both personal use and even around the home.

Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VapoRub has great success with CPAP and Non-Invasive Ventilator mask users when people have a cold (as mentioned in a previous article ( by placing some on a tissue near the machine's air inlet to allow the gentle vapours to help clear the stuffiness (Olbas Oil works well for this too).  PLEASE NEVER PUT THIS OR ANY OTHER PRODUCT ON THE FILTER ITSELF THOUGH OR INSIDE THE HUMIDIFIER CHAMBER!  Then there's the other tip of rubbing Vicks on the soles of the feet to help with night time coughing, which incidentally isn't an old wives tale as it really does work! 

If you read the packaging on Vicks VaporRub you will see one of the warnings actually states:- "DO NOT swallow or apply directly into the nostrils, eyes, mouth or face."

Vaseline/Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline and similar products again have good uses - most of which are very well known, and the packaging states that the product is for 'External Use Only.'  Web MD states "Apply to the skin only. Avoid sensitive areas such as your eyes, inside your mouth/nose....."

The aim of this article is to warn people NOT to use these products inside the nostrils, and especially for people who have air pumped through their masks, as there is a risk that, in rare cases of persistent use of substances containing petroleum jelly or mineral oils, it can lead to an accumulation of these fatty lipids into the lungs, resulting in  inflammation or even Lipoid Pneumonia!  Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., Dermatologist at The Mayo Clinic put out a warning a while ago about this risk and you can read the full article on their site here….. Petroleum Jelly – Mayo Clinic.

Please also be aware that many lip creams (lip salve) also contain petroleum jelly and/or alcohol.

Furthermore, for mask users, any products containing  petroleum jelly, paraffin/mineral oils or alcohol will damage the soft cushioning of the masks!  (It's hard enough to maintain a good mask seal, with us contributing to problems that can cause mask leakage, let alone the expense of replacing the masks).

Other Products containing Petroleum Jelly:-

  • E45 Cream
  • Sudocrem
  • Most Hydrocortisone Cream
  • Diomed

Please check the smallprint of cream for a list of ingredients as it's surprising just how many do contain petroleum jelly.  Remember 'vaseline' is just one trade name, but petroleum jelly comes under different names like mineral jelly, paraffin jelly, soft paraffin, mineral oil and petrolatum.

The CPAP Moisture Cream pictured above and below can be safely used for breathing and won't damage our masks either.  It also has special healing qualities - so much so that it's getting termed as the 'magic mask cream.'   KY Jelly can also be used safely, but just doesn't contain the aforesaid healing benefits.  Whilst the tubes of CPAP Cream look small, they do last most people a very long time.


NEVER use any product containing petroleum jelly/paraffin oil with oxygen as, apart from it being a fire hazard, chemical burns can occur!

NEVER use Vicks VapoRub with children under 2 years old


© Kath Hope, February 2017

Hope2Sleep Charity